Peer review – in all its forms – is central to scholarly communications. From funding applications through journal submissions to hiring and promotion decisions and beyond – all rely on some form of peer review. The changing needs of researchers – especially as a result of the move to digital and the globalization of scholarly research – are not just leading to new forms of publication, but also to new forms of peer review. Traditional publishers and startups alike are experimenting with open peer review, transferable peer review, peer review validation, and more. There is also increased awareness of how much time researchers are spending on peer review and the need for this to be recognized – and valued – by their institutions, resulting in new ways of enabling credit for this (see, for example, Publons).
Unsurprisingly, then, it’s been the topic of many a Scholarly Kitchen post – 415, to be exact, if our search results are to be believed! Recents posts have covered issues as diverse as credit for peer review, sexism in peer review, and fast track peer review. The comments generated by these posts are often as interesting – and revealing – as the posts themselves. Peer review is a subject that – despite the fact that most researchers continue to trust it – divides opinion in the wider scholarly community. There is certainly much to discuss, but there is also much to celebrate!
At least, that’s the conclusion that a small and rather disparate group of us – ORCID, ScienceOpen, Sense About Science, and Wiley – came to a few weeks ago when talking about our individual organizations’ efforts to support peer review. As a result of that conversation, we decided to experiment with an informal Peer Review Week celebration, one that we hope other members of the scholarly community will support and engage with. And, perhaps, one that might grow into an annual event that honors the central role peer review plays – and, we believe, will continue to play – in scholarly communications.
At ORCID, we have been working with Faculty of 1000 and other members of our community to help researchers get credit for peer review by developing new functionality that enables organizations to add peer review activities to ORCID records (with the record-holder’s permission). ScienceOpen’s interest in peer review stems from their commitment to a completely transparent post-publication peer review process, which requires reviewers to follow a pretty stringent checklist. Wiley is putting its money where its mouth is by establishing a global team of peer review experts, providing support for reviewers with initiatives such as their reviewer resource centre, and by experimenting with new approaches to peer review. But Sense About Science – who joined the group to ensure the wider benefits of peer review as a quality mark and tool for making sense of science claims are shared with the public – are, for me anyway, especially synonymous with peer review. For a small nonprofit with limited resources they’ve had a huge impact on our knowledge about how scientists view peer review, on public (and policy-makers’) understanding of peer review, on training for early career researchers, and more (details here).
So it’s fitting that Peer Review Week will begin on the same day as Sense About Science’s Annual Lecture on September 28, and run through October 2. Planned activities include:
- Daily posts about peer review on our blogs
- Twitter campaign (#peerrevwk15)
- Webinar on Trust and Transparency in Peer Review with Kent Anderson (AAAS), Verity Brown (St Andrews University), Alexander Grossman (ScienceOpen), Laure Haak (ORCID), and Andrew Preston (Publons)
- Video of top 10 peer review tips
Having set ourselves a somewhat insanely tight deadline for Peer Review Week, we unfortunately had to keep the number of organizations involved in the initial planning to a minimum in order to make anything at all happen! But we know that there are many, many other organizations and individuals out there who care about peer review just as much as we do – and we want you to get involved! Our hope is that as many of you as possible will contribute to what is intended to be a community-driven discussion about – and celebration of – peer review. If you can help us make a success of it at short notice and on a shoestring this year, just think how much bigger and better it could be with your wider (and earlier!) participation next year…